State, civil rights groups settle voter roll suit
A group of civil rights organizations reached an agreement today with Texas state officials to settle a lawsuit challenging the creation and rollout of a flawed voter purge list that discriminated against naturalized citizens.
A press release from the Texas Secretary of State’s office states that the parties to LULAC v. Whitley (and consolidated cases) agreed to a settlement in the litigation regarding Secretary of State David Whitley’s January “voter registration list maintenance” that called into question the citizenship of many registered voters.
The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the parties in the case, also issued a press release on the settlement. The state will rescind its original advisory announcing the purge effort and agree to a more limited voter database maintenance process. The state has also agreed to provide and maintain information regarding the implementation of the process. The plaintiffs will also retain the right to bring another challenge to the process if the state continues to discriminate or violate protected rights.
“After months of litigation, the state has finally agreed to do what we’ve demanded from the start — a complete withdrawal of the flawed and discriminatory voter purge list, bringing this failed experiment in voter suppression to an end,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “The right to vote is sacrosanct, and no eligible voter should have to worry about losing that right. We are glad that the state has agreed to give up this misguided effort to eliminate people from the voter rolls, and we will continue to monitor any future voter purge attempt by the state to ensure that no eligible Texan loses their voice in our democracy.”
According to the press release from Whitley’s office, all parties in the case agreed to a process by which the Texas Secretary of State's office can continue to conduct voter registration list maintenance required under both state and federal law while eliminating the impact of any list maintenance on eligible Texas voters. The plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all of their claims and the Texas Secretary of State's office agreed to issue a new advisory notifying Texas counties on the revised process for identifying and removing non-U.S. citizens from the state's voter rolls.
Secretary Whitley issued the following statement regarding the settlement agreement:
"I want to thank the Texas Legislature, county election officials from across the state, and the parties in this litigation for working with our office to develop a sustainable non-citizen list maintenance process. From the beginning, this process was designed to be collaborative, and today's agreement reflects a constructive collaboration among all stakeholders. It is of paramount importance that Texas voters can have confidence in the integrity, accuracy, and efficiency of the electoral system in which they participate. Today's agreement accomplishes our office's goal of maintaining an accurate list of qualified registered voters while eliminating the impact of any list maintenance activity on naturalized U.S. citizens. I will continue to work with all stakeholders in the election community to ensure this process is conducted in a manner that holds my office accountable and protects the voting rights of eligible Texans."
The parties agreed to a revised list maintenance process for the Texas Secretary of State's office to utilize in matching Texas Department of Public Safety data regarding potential non-U.S. citizens with Texas' voter registration database. The parties agreed that, going forward, the Texas Secretary of State's office will send to county voter registrars only the matching records of individuals who registered to vote before identifying themselves as non-U.S. citizens to DPS when applying for a driver's license or personal identification card. This will ensure that naturalized U.S. citizens who lawfully registered to vote are not impacted by this voter registration list maintenance process.